We here at Murmurs from the Losers’ Bracket are getting weary over all the stories that find new ways to gush over pickleball.
We get it. Pickleball is wonderful. It’s even life-changing to some. And everybody from your bored teenager to your devious-dinker grandmama is playing it.
But chill out, people. No need to turn up the hype machine to 11.
Here’s an example of what I’m talking about. I open up my email, and screaming in my inbox in “Japan Surrenders”-sized boldface type is the headline “Pickleball is the most popular game for Americans to learn.”
First of all, no need to shout. We kind of figured that out already. But then digging into the story, it turns out things get nutty really fast.
The source of this story isn’t ESPN, The Athletic, or some other sports site. It’s a website called Hearts.land which is devoted to explaining how the card game of hearts is played and providing an online site for people to play the game.
The data used to arrive at the story’s conclusions are Google searches using terms such as “how to play” or “rules.”
And there’s even a state-by-state comparison of the top-five searches in each state.
It turns out that not only is pickleball the most searched sport for rules across America – and that it’s the top-searched sport in 27 states.
It’s that pickleball is the only sport on the list.
That’s right. Pickleball isn’t beating out tennis, basketball, and ice hockey in this story. It’s beating out poker, the Powerball lottery, and some game called king’s cup, which (I had to look it up) involves drinking several shots of alcohol while turning over playing cards.
It’s hardly breaking news that more people, for example, might want to look up the rules of pickleball than Uno, a card game that literally tells the players what to do right on the cards: Reverse, Draw Four, Skip …
And the fact that pickleball searches are more numerous than rules searches for euchre in Indiana is the kind of information I didn’t realize I needed.
Should we as pickleball fanatics take solace in knowing that more people are searching for the rules of pickleball in Alabama than they are of the card game spades?
Or that the cold-weather states of Alaska, Maine, Minnesota, Montana, and New Hampshire all care more about learning to play cribbage than pickleball?
And why are the people in Oklahoma more fascinated about learning a dice game named “farkle” than pickleball?
(Farkle? That sounds like something the Oklahoma state legislature would ban.)
This is data run amok.
And we here at Murmurs from the Losers’ Bracket can’t help but wonder if the whole premise of the article is wrong.
It could just be that the 280,000 people every month doing Google searches on the rules for pickleball isn’t a measure of the game’s popularity as much as it is a measure of the game’s confusing rules.
Maybe pickleball is just the most confusing sport. And that’s hardly something to crow about.
Furthermore, before we pickleballers take a victory lap, we ought to temper our jubilation by digging deeper, where we can make the sober realization that we beat out “Go Fish.”
Seriously, there were 128,000 people per month who were searching for the rules of Go Fish, a card game suitable for preschoolers.
But OK. We’ll take the “W.” Pickleball wins. Again.
Even if this time it’s against Pokemon cards.
MURMURS FROM THE LOSERS' BRACKET
Read past editions of Murmurs from the Losers' Bracket, including:
- Taking the First Serve… or Not
- “Sorry” Seems to be the Easiest Word
- Top 10 Signs it's too Hot to Play Pickleball Outside
- Coming In from the Heat
- The Ozempic Ad
- Ball On Court? Maybe Not
- The PPA, the APP and Monty Python
- Time to Get Help at Bangers Anonymous
- "It's an Injury Sport"
- A Pickleball Translation Guide
- What's Your Pickleball Nickname?
- Tennis the Menace
- Is There Such a Thing as "Pickleball Torture"?
- How to Be an Effective Pickleball Snob
- All You Need Is Glove
- The Lesson McDonald’s French Fries Have for Pickleball
- Tunes on the Court
- The Poetry of Empty Courts
- “Head Targeting” Rule Change Not a Brainy Idea
- Getting Beyond "Good Game"
- Why Are Pickleball Trophies Such a Big Deal?
- Stop Messing with the ATP
- When Discussions of Rules Turn Unruly
- A Former Pickleball Addict Speaks Out
- Separating the Drinkers from the Dinkers
- Turning Every Magazine into a Pickleball Magazine
- Zen and the Art of Pickleball Maintenance
- Spirited Pickleball Poetry
- Making Pickleball Less "Devastating" to Amateurs
- Finding Romance on the Pickleball Court: Top 10 Pickup Lines
- Sign of the Times: Pickleball License Plates
- Red Light, Green Light: Playing Traffic Cop on the Court
- The Pickler Limerick Challenge
- The Pickler Limerick Challenge Heats Up
- The Pickler Limerick Challenge Wraps Up
- Pickleball & the $100 Hamburger
- Before We Play, Partner, Please Sign This...
- Pickleball's Most Powerful Spoken Word
- It's Been a Hard Day's Night for Pickleball Skeptics
- Be Kind to Your Local "Paddle Sheriff"
- Is There Such a Thing as Too Many Paddles?
- Silence Is... Not My Style
"Going Ham" Over Pickleball's Generational Divide
Frank Cerabino is a long-time columnist for the Palm Beach Post in Florida, a pickleball addict like the rest of us, and a newly published author. Check out Frank's newly released book, I Dink, Therefore I Am: Coming to Grips with My Pickleball Addiction (available on Amazon and a great read (or gift!) for any pickleball player), for pickleball tips and laughs!